ACTTopics: Our Philosophy | Should I Prep? | About the ACT
Cardinal Education administers a diagnostic practice test to every student before beginning tutoring. This allows us to assess the strengths and weaknesses, get a baseline score, and develop an individualized tutoring plan for each student. Tutoring sessions typically last 1.5-2 hours and are held 1-2 times a week; the schedule is adapted to fit your student’s particular needs, goals, and timeline. All our sessions are 1-on-1 tutoring, which we have found to be the most successful way to motivate and raise students’ scores. All Cardinal Education test prep specialists are experts in the test they teach. We not only know the best way to do each problem, but we can also explain each question in several ways your student will understand. Students complete significant amounts of homework outside of the tutoring session and come in for multiple proctored practice tests, so they attain mastery of our nuanced strategies through rigorous practice and are prepared for the difficulty of the test. The ACT covers concepts students may have forgotten or have never seen before and asks them to complete questions at an extremely aggressive pace, which is why such an extensive amount of preparation is required. Contact us today to schedule a diagnostic test and get started.
Does your student need to prep for the ACT?
The company that produces the ACT will always insist that no preparation outside of school is needed for the ACT. Most colleges, if asked, will discourage students from preparing for the ACT. Yet, most students who go in to the ACT without preparation are usually shocked by the strict time constraints, particularly on the Reading and Science sections. While all of the content on the ACT is covered in school, students need to learn ACT-specific strategies in order to make the best use of their limited time and maximize their score. Our results prove that with the right preparation regimen, ACT scores can be improved significantly. For more details about our success preparing students for the ACT, see our results.
About the ACT
The ACT, like the SAT, is accepted by colleges nationwide. The ACT is 3 hours and 25 minutes long and is broken into five sections: English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so students should be sure to fill in every bubble on their answer sheet. Compared to the SAT, the ACT is more straightforward but tests more advanced math concepts and has stricter time constraints. For a full breakdown of the differences between the ACT and SAT, visit our SAT vs. ACT blog article. The ACT is offered every September, October, December, February, April, and June. Click here for this year’s testing dates and registration deadlines. When to begin test prep depends entirely on what score the student wants to be achieve: the higher the goal, the earlier preparation needs to start. We suggest taking a practice test six months prior to the actual exam to get a benchmark score and to provide ample time for preparation.
English: The English section contains five passages, each of which has fifteen questions about proper grammar and usage. Small parts of each passage are underlined, and students must answer a question about each underlined section. Most of the questions ask students to choose the best option to replace the underlined part of the passage. We help our students master the concepts that the ACT tests most frequently. We also show them how to work through the passages efficiently to ensure that they finish the section before time is called.
Math: The Math section includes 33 algebra questions, 23 geometry questions, and 4 trigonometry questions. The trigonometry questions are not difficult and may have even been covered in a geometry or algebra 2 class; however, because of the large number of questions and short amount of time, students often find themselves struggling to finish this section. ACT math questions are not meant to be tricky; it is the time limit that makes this section difficult. We show students methods for answering multiple choice questions faster and for cutting down on careless errors. We also pinpoint weaknesses in our students’ math skills and help them improve those weak areas.
Reading: The Reading section of the ACT contains four passages of ten questions each. There is one passage on each of the following subjects: fiction, humanities, social studies, and natural sciences. Students rarely finish the Reading section because of the large quantity of questions and their inability to discern the subtle, logical order of the questions. We develop tailored approaches to the reading passages for each of our students, while also showing students the various question types and what strategy to use on each type.
Science: The Science section tricks many students because instead of testing scientific facts or information, it asks students to interpret and analyze complex charts and graphs. , As we’ve already mentioned, all of the sections of the ACT put students in a time crunch, but none more so than the Science section. It is rare to find a student who can methodically read his way through each passage and answer each question within the time limit. Our highly specialized and unique strategy helps students quickly gather the information they need to answer the questions, while avoiding costly distractions from non-essential information.
Writing: Students are expected to write a persuasive essay on a given topic that is relevant to the lives of high school students. Scorers expect to see a well-developed argument that analyzes relevant examples and addresses counterexamples. The writing section is technically optional, but any well-regarded four-year college will expect students to complete the writing section. We teach students to write persuasive essays that effectively display the student’s ability to form a cohesive argument. By breaking down practice essays, we are able to target weaknesses in the student’s writing ability and focus on improving those areas.
|English||75 questions, 45 minutes|
|Math||60 questions, 60 minutes|
|Reading||40 questions, 35 minutes|
|Science||40 questions, 35 minutes|
|Writing||1 prompt, 30 minutes|
|Total||3 hours 25 minutes|